ACC Football: Reality check for Wolfpack
By Joedy McCreary
RALEIGH ó North Carolina State had just polished off another outmanned opponent when coach Tom O’Brien walked away from the podium and found out that Pittsburgh had beaten Navy convincingly.
There was no questioning the reality check: With the Big East’s preseason favorite up next, the easy part of the schedule is over.
Good thing for the Wolfpack that they don’t measure themselves by the teams they’ve played so far, or else the only thing they’d know for certain is that they’d be serious contenders to win the Football Championship Subdivision.
“I wouldn’t say it’s about who we’re playing against. I think it’s about ourselves,” linebacker Ray Michel said Monday. “(Defensive coordinator Mike) Archer’s always saying every week: ‘It doesn’t matter who you play. It doesn’t matter what conference, what division they’re in. It’s a matter to see how much better can we get as a unit?”‘
Of course, that can be a difficult thing for N.C. State to gauge when the previous two opponents were so outmanned.
Yes, the Wolfpack (2-1) are above .500 for the first time since 2006, when Chuck Amato’s final team opened 3-2 before dropping seven straight to end both the season and his tenure at his alma mater.
But there are questions about whether the current start is a mirage.
They’ve spent the past two Saturdays beating up on FCS teams, routing Murray State and Gardner-Webb by a combined 110-21, but they’re still looking for their first touchdown against a school from the Bowl Subdivision. The only one they’ve faced so far, South Carolina, shut down their offense in a 7-3 win over N.C. State in the opener.